The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0571 Friday, 21 March 2003
Date: Thursday, 20 Mar 2003 13:55:49 EST
Subject: Love's Labour's Wonne
"...I hope for the day that a copy of "Cardenio" is found,
second only to "Love's Labors Won" (first if "LLW" is just an
alternative title for an existing Shakespearian work)"
Love's Labour's Wonne... here's a wacky suggestion... and the dern thing
is, I can't figure out if it's my own idea or if I copped it from
somewhere. If you recognize it, please speak up as to its source.
What if Love's Labour's Won is the title of the PREFALSTAFF version of
Merry Wives of Windsor?
Dover Wilson suggested that such a play existed [calling it The Jealous
Comedy], and that when Queen Elizabeth asked for Falstaff in Love
Shakespeare grafted Falstaff's crew onto his own pre-existent play,
transforming a 'foolish gentleman' character and a foolish servant into
Falstaff and Quickly, giving the foolish suitor an uncle [Shallow], and
thrusting Bardolph, Nym, Pistol and the Page into the action as
messengers and servants. But he didn't suggest that this play was called
Love's Labour's Won.
On the other hand, in the sweepstakes to be nominated the play for which
LLW was an alternate title, Merry Wives is one of the leading
contenders. But it's always been the extant Merry Wives as we know it
that's been suggested to be LLW.
Now combine those two suggestions... Shakespeare writes a sequel of
sorts to Love's Labour's Lost. It doesn't use the same characters from
LLL, but like it, it features three couples [the Fords, the Pages and
the youngsters], a series of wooings: a foolish gentleman woos two
townswomen; and a young gentleman [the beloved] and a foolish rival vie
for the hand of the young daughter of one of the townswomen. There is a
full range comic eccentrics to populate the comic subplot[s]-- A French
Doctor with an outrageous accent and a comic housekeeper and a foolish
manservant; a Welsh Parson/Pedant with an outrageous accent; Mine Host
of the Inn with an outrageous way of speaking. [To add 5 more comic
characters -- Shallow, Bardolph, Nym, Pistol & the Page-- to something
like this might seem too much-- how many comic eccentrics can one play
have or need?]
Now if the Falstaff version of the play was set in Windsor only because
of its association with the Garter feast, then the play originally had
SOME OTHER TITLE. Could that title have been Love's Labour's Won?
Sequel-wise it continues some features from Love's Labor's Lost... The
Fantastical Foreigner Armado leads on to the Fantastical Foreigner
The Humorous Pedant Holofernes and the Curate are combined as it were
in the Humorous Parson/Pedant Evans. Like Love's Labour's Lost it ends
with a quasi-dramatic event. I dunno...
After the play was Falstaffized, there was no need for the Booke of the
old version of the play, so it was sold to a printer, and a small
edition [now completely lost] was printed. A copy of that edition was
listed in a bookseller's inventory in 1602. Where have all the others
gone? Hhmmm... look in your attics?
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